There’s much more to a gym than machines, weights and a pool. While it can be scary and overwhelming if you don’t quite know how to navigate it, it can also be a place to build a community, find workout buddies and go have some one. Fitness classes are the perfect cradle for that. Sometimes you don’t want to stick with circuits, you need the extra motivation or simply want to sweat while having a blast. Of course with the variety of classes on the schedule one can often wonder, what’s the best one to take. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular ones out there for you to pick and choose from.
The Les Mills bunch
If you’re a member of 24 hour fitness, chances are they dominate the schedule. Originating from England, Less Mills offers a series of classes ranging from cardio, to strength to core specific workouts.
A strength class using high repetitions, targeting all major areas of the body using steps, barbells and plates. The weight is determined by you and your fitness level. It’s a little technical, so you want to make sure you have good form before you go for the heavy weights. It’s a great full body workout and can get a good burn in. Due to the nature of the class, take it 2-3 times a week, and unless you’re very well conditioned, try giving your body 48 hours to recover before taking it again.
For kickbox and MMA lovers, this fast paced cardio workout combines kicks, punches and a lot of jumping. If you’re looking for a class to bump your heartrate up, head this way. Be sure you have good balance and co-ordination and can handle high impact. While the class itself is great, I’ve seen more rolled ankles and twisted knees that I care to admit. Like most Les Mills classes, this ends with a 3 minute ab track to assure maximum exhaustion.
A modern version of the 70s-80s aerobics class. Again, a high impact, fast paced cardio class with some ab work mixed in there. Less combos, but just as much sweat.
Les Mills’s version of cycle, using their signature high rep formula. While the class is only 50 minutes vs your usual hour, you will get your burn. It will challenge you and keep your heartrate up the whole time. The tracks are fun and give you that extra push you need to get through the class.
30 minutes of abs, but trust me, it feels like an hour. Using resistance bands, body weight and plates, this class will work every muscle in your core. It’s not very technical and all moves can be adjusted to your fitness level.
Nike Training Club took most gyms by storm. 60 minutes of high intensity interval training, that seemed to have replaced your traditional bootcamp. Each exercise is performed for a minute, and each set repeats twice. This class challenges your strength and endurance in every way possible. Equipment used depends on the instructor, but most often it’s dumbbells, barbells, and occasionally, steps. Since it is high impact and quite taxing on the body, I wouldn’t recommend taking it more than 2-3 times a week.
Definitely one of the more popular cardio classes out there. Great for cardiovascular endurance as well as shaping your legs and butt and yes, it will work your core too. As always, you are the captain of your own ship, since you are controlling your own resistance. You’ll either crawl out with jello legs, or walk out as if nothing had happened. It’s great if you have ankle/knee injuries where you can’t quite handle the high impact classes but still want to get your cardio in.
Turbo Kick/Cardio Kickboxing
Name says it all. Kickboxing with a lot of jumping. If you have some aggression you need to get our of your system, this might just be the perfect class for you.
AKA the cult. Yes, it has become a massive movement and now zumba classes are offered all over the place. You don’t have to be a dancer or even know how to move. Just get in there, feel the rhythm and do your thing, Choose the one that suits you best. Zumba GOLD for the senior or special populations, Zumba STEP if you trust your balance and co-ordination, Zumba SENTAO if you feel a chair adds to the experience, or Zumba KIDS for your Minions.
This class is no joke. It may only be 30 minutes, but you will feel every second of it. Non-stop HIIT class using Jillian’s signature 3-2-1 method: 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of abs, which also serves as active recovery, repeated in 4 circuits. I am a certified instructor and had the chance to take 3 classes led by the woman herself…coincidentally those were my only near-death experiences. My heart rate was up, my body was tired by the end of circuit two but I got through it and felt amazing after. It will always remain a love-hate relationship with this, but in my opinion, it’s the best kind of class. One you dread doing but feel amazing after. Due to it’s nature, Body Shred is not recommended for people with injuries or chronic conditions. Currently only a handful of gyms carry it, but it’s rapidly expanding.
Part two of this series will include stretching and lengthening classes as well as water classes. Keep watching fitness classes break down!